RipWhen the Minnesota Vikings selected Christian Darrisaw in the first round of the 2021 draft, it was a fairly unassuming pick. He didn’t turn many heads or get anyone’s blood pumping. He was the fourth tackle taken off the board and came from Virginia Tech, a school not exactly known for churning out NFL linemen. But now, in his second season and under a new coaching staff, he is getting high praise — even comparisons to a future Hall of Fame left tackle.
In his latest training camp observations, Albert Breer of SI.com said that this new regime is extremely high on Darrisaw. According to Breer, “The staff here sees shades of Trent Williams in his build and movement skills. The feeling is he’s got a chance to make a significant leap this year, perhaps into the upper echelon at his position.”
That’s quite the statement. Not only is Williams one of the best tackles in the league right now, but he may also go down as one of the best tackles ever. Most fans only expected marginal improvement out of Darrisaw this year. Realistically, they hoped he would turn into a quality starter. To be fair, though, finding a quality starter on the offensive line is a crowning achievement for the Vikings. But to hear what the new coaching staff expects from Darrisaw really gets the gears turning.
Did the Vikings just draft the league’s next best tackle?
Darrisaw has all the physical tools to be successful. He has a large frame and a strong upper body. He and Williams are both listed at 6’5”, 320 lbs. The big, maybe overwhelming difference between the two right now is technique and effort. That’s understandable. Darrisaw is only in Year 2 and has a lot to learn. But effort and technique are something that shouldn’t be understated. The Vikings learned that lesson the hard way with Matt Kalil — another big, hyper-athletic tackle who didn’t pan out after being selected fourth overall. He maintains that injuries and a poor coaching staff were to blame, but it was clear that things were only getting worse after his second year. He never took responsibility for his play. But if Darrisaw embraces the new scheme, the sky is his limit.
Darrisaw also didn’t see the field last year until Week 5 due to injury. However, he made good use of the remaining 11 games and steadily improved. He was only flagged three times last year, although he did give up five sacks. According to Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus, five of his highest-graded games came during the last six games of the season. PFF graded him at 71.9 for the season. For reference, right tackle and Pro-Bowler Brian O’Neill finished with a 73.4. That’s encouraging to say the least. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though — Darrisaw still has a long way to go to reach Williams’ mind-boggling 97.8 grade.
Darrisaw is reportedly looking good during the first few days of camp, even against the likes of Danielle Hunter. The Vikings have had a revolving door at left tackle the last few years, so having solidified the position is welcome news. Darrisaw is on his rookie deal and will be a steal the next few seasons if he continues this trajectory. He is also healthy and seems to be picking up right where he left off. So maybe the idea of him becoming the next Trent Williams isn’t so farfetched.
The thought of Darrisaw becoming one of the league’s top tackles is exciting. Paired with O’Neill, fresh off his first Pro Bowl, the duo could be the bookend tackles Vikings fans have dreamed about for years. The interior of the offensive lines leaves a lot to be desired and will undoubtedly be tested throughout the season. But if Darrisaw can protect the blind side and leave one less thing for Kirk Cousins to worry about, the offense can flourish. Let’s hope he doesn’t get too satisfied after his coaches compared him to one of the greatest tackles of all time.